Chocolate Cake

November 18, 2020

Lucy measured out with a heart-sized blue scoop, One cup, and smoothed out the peak with her finger. Into the metal bowl it powdered. She slid the square Tupperware full of sugar across the kitchen island, the sunshine beaming through the pouring rain now slowed to a drizzle outside the kitchen window. A lined shadow would've fallen onto Lucy’s face from the blinds, but the way the light diffused into the white streaks and piles of cloud, how it snuck under the rain blanket, how the drops themselves carried bits and bits of that golden light, and fell like honey wine, into the garden grass. Lucy felt herself glow, and the kitchen glowed around her, the spoons on the counter beaming in the light, the flour white and puffy as snow. She poured a cup of sugar in the bowl and watched it sparkle like ice. She crinkled a bag of organic, fair trade, dutch-processed cocoa her mom bought her and shook till the white mountain she made was covered. Lucy never measured cocoa. It was very easy, in every recipe, it was never enough. It powdered onto her white t-shirt and she huffed, instinctually, brushing it hard with her fingers. She clicked her tongue, Dammit! The cocoa now streaked helplessly along the crossword that designed the front. Never learns, and she felt that burying mouse of never-learning in her chest as she walked across the kitchen, passed through the string-bead doorway which today brushed across her face like laughter, but sometimes pokes her in the eye or gets caught in her curls. Towards the South corner of the house where a laundry room with one tiny window beamed on the top of a mound of clothing piling up, and a Tide Pen sat dust-free on the washer, within reach. Lucy passes another beaded-doorway room, these ones wooden, heavy, falling all the way to the floor. The room was short and had no ceiling light or switch, white light from the sunny-rain outside pouring in from a spotless window that reached the floor. It looked out into the backyard, which Lucy’s mom had ground-in tooth and nail, geraniums, hydrangeas, nettles, wild ferns, and salmon berries she brought home in a woven bags after her trips to the park, a pair of shears dangling from her belt loop. Her mother wanted to grow native plants, she’d explained to Lucy in the spring. Roses are nice but only the wild ones, she winked, ruffling a white dogwood into the ground by the fence. Said mother sat, cross-legged in the room, her back to Lucy, on a little purple cushion. The room was empty except for a few cushions leaned against the wall, the lingering smell of Nag Champa incense rubbed into the carpet, and a small altar fashioned right under the window, where her mother places dead cedar boughs she finds every morning on her walk, or her “journey” around the salt-air neighbourhood. Even though her back was to her, Lucy saw her mom’s still shoulders pressed down, and imagined her face wet with tears. It was the only time she wouldn't look at Lucy. Sometimes Lucy would see it, lying flat on her back in the garden because it was the only thing, place, or person, that would hold her after her barrage at school, and her mother, so deep in meditation, or unpierceable silence, would forget her daughter was in the grass behind the window, and Lucy would feel a cold breeze, look up and see her mother, silent, unmoving, shoulders down and hands crossed in lap like a good yogi, with tears painting rivers down her cheeks. Lucy uncomfortably waited for her mom to ride the wave of grief away from that last phone call about her horse. The counsellor said mourning for an animal shouldn't take up normal-life activities for more than a few weeks. Your dog dies, you go home sick from work, and you're back by tomorrow. Lucy stared at her mother’s small back in the dim doorway, and waited for tomorrow. 
The Tide Pen cleaned up the cocoa like it does every time, and while the light from the kitchen soothed her like an ice during teething, Lucy could only stare at the wooden spoon as she twisted her hair. The counsellor said this was also normal, for a toddler, but more concerns had to be held about a seventeen year old still holding onto their childhood tick. I can do other things, too Lucy thought, folding into that floral couch. I bite my lip and I count my fingers. Sometimes I bleed and this comforts me. Lucy liked when her thoughts were just for herself. She gathered them up like pearls and stacked them on top of each other to build herself. She enjoyed this game of marbles, but it held her in a grip that Cupid himself couldn't shake. Her finger twisting in her hair, the wooden spoon in the dark bowl, vegetable oil seeping into the cocoa and making it black. Spin Lucy, spin, she hears the doctor say to her. Spin. Spin. pick up the spoon and do one little spin. Just once around the bowl.
    But her mother, Lucy thought, her mother’s blue back and the dead horse and the dim lights and the garbage bag full of photographs of my dad I found in the bin last week. The sea boomed and Lucy heard it. She remembered the shells, their soft pink insides, she imaged the rain falling onto her face and soaking down till it became a mortar between the pearls, hers, she was strong, and the grip loosened, her hand shakily came down, to grip the spoon instead. Once, round the bowl, every ligament in her arm screamed. The hair! The fingers! Your mother! How many do you have? How many do you have?!
    The rain poured down the window like a river.


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  • November 18, 2020 - 1:52am (Now Viewing)

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